Be Ready to Snatch Up Opportunities to Crystallize Our Counter-Power

I propose that, as our movements network, build trust and shared politics, and begin to integrate power across our own spaces and institutions, we prepare to grasp every possible opportunity to permanently shift resources and jurisdiction away from dominant systems and towards our structures.

     A common theme—or more like a trajectory—that I have tried to repeat throughout these proposals is the progression from visions and actions at the individual and small group level to ever larger connections, relationships, alliances, and integrated projects that stretch across social movements. What may for years end up looking like a random snap, crackle, and pop of all sorts of different groups doing all sorts of different things in the name of the same big movement (pretty much what we have now) would eventually become more integrated, coordinated, and widespread across different areas of life. As this happens, as our collective strength grows, I think our movements need to be ready to not just irritate or even rival the system, but to actually replace it and even scoop up its resources.

This means that in practice, no matter what specific work we’re doing, our movements must maintain at least a pilot light of confrontational spirit ignited within them. Especially at a mass scale, if we are building comfortable and warm spaces for personal growth, and we’re building alternative institutions that meet a variety of needs, it will become tempting to settle in to our gains, to pull back from the exhausting friction of trying to undo the brutalities beyond our walls. We must be conscious of that temptation and resolve to keep that friction as a durable part of our culture, because in the end, some level of confrontation will always be necessary until systemic oppression is gone for good.

Just thinking in terms of ending capitalism, for example, building our own alternative economic structures will never be enough in the long run. Start-up workers coops or mutual aid markets or alternative currencies can only take us so far. At some point, wealth is going to have to be taken back from the corporations and the super-rich to be redistributed in our communities, and that is not going to happen voluntarily. We are going to have to seize it from them—ideally by workers and communities directly seizing and taking over their workplaces. This will require confident and militant—though ideally non-violent—direct action. But to get to that point, we must be ready, we must always recognize it as a possibility—an eventual necessity—that exists under the surface.

Strategically, then, one job for our movement researchers and thinkers is to pay attention to the larger landscape of power, to notice opportunities and weak points, to suggest areas of need or contradiction where our fledgling counter-power can seriously shift the balance in our favor. And when events spontaneously erupt—for example, the movement that toppled Tunisia’s dictator and launched the Arab Spring was sparked by the public suicide of one street vendor—we all need to be prepared with mechanisms of mutual alert and readiness to hit the streets and push at the edges of the system, seeing what victories we can grasp.    

Continue to Proposal 10: Prepare for Resistance
That Tests Every Bond, Every Pledge, Every Value

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